The WSCL Blog

News and information about WSCL's Classical Music Programming

Friday, October 24, 2014

Just Opened - October 24, 2014 - The Edge of New

The very traditional, from Beethoven to operetta, and the new edge of old, with new works for harpsichord and new works that incorporate traditional eastern instruments.  Today, new releases, just opened.

Jonas Kaufmann, tenor
SONY Classical 88843087712
ISBN # 8 8843 08771 2 2
Official Website of Jonas Kaufmann 
My Delight of the Week.   Better known for some of his operatic "heavy lifting"... the lengthy roles of Wagner, like Parsifal, dishy Kaufmann reinvigorates the overlooked genre of operetta.   These infectious and fun melodies, often dismissed as too light, Kaufmann reveals to be some of the more demanding works he has sung... partially because performing them correctly needs to seem effortless.  Unlike some opera roles where part of the "drama" is the tenor "working" for his high notes, the goal in operetta was silken smoothness and the seeming ability to toss these works off without trying (remember that Maurice Chevalier began in this world, and you immediately understand the attitude of casual elegance).  For several years I've been asking music producers "why don't we see more productions of operettas?  The music is delightful, the settings colorful, and they've been forgotten, so they'd be NEW to a new generation."  (I've been lobbying for a modern dress production of Desert Song - very appropriate, considering....)  Singers rejoice in the hope that Kaufmann's attention may bring these roles & productions back into vogue!

An Original Tribute to Ancient Egypt
Instrumental music by Pamela Sklar
MSR 1498
ISBN # 6 81585 14982 9
Official Website of Pamela Sklar 
These works by Sklar are the exciting edge of modern music, where folk (a la middle eastern and north african traditional music) meets the exotic and chamber works in inventive ways that are very compelling.  Especially appealing to the "world music" crowd, this is very accessible modern music that builds on the "orientalism" of Borodin and other Romantic era composers whose work was inspired by, and infused with eastern influence.

Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
SONY CLASSICAL 88843058862
ISBN # 8 8843 05886 2 2
Official Website of Leif Ove Andsnes
This world renowned pianist continues his journey through the major works of Beethoven for piano and orchestra (and sometimes chorus, too).   Working with top flight orchestras in this series, Andsnes creates CDs that can easily become part of the essential core of your classical music library.

Elaine Funaro, harpsichordist
Gasparo GSCD 331
ISBN # 7 5510 10331 2 8
Official Website of Elaine Funaro
Elaine Funaro continues to explore the musical possibilities of that "old" instrument, the harpsichord in new works that take on the soundscape of new compositions, as well as other new works that lean heavily on the structure and sound of the past. Some of these keyboard works will be too modern and inaccessible for many listeners.  Funaro has a large body of recorded works, and they are worth exploring.  Funaro is currently the President of the Historical Keyboard Society of North America, and artistic director of Alienor, the (US based) international competition for new harpsichord music, and is intensely involved in the perpetuation of older and devleopment of new works for harpsichord.  (Her teachers included Ton Koopman and Gustav Leonhardt.)

Thanks to our SU Practicum, Stephanie Clark, for pulling together the pix and website info. to help you find out more about the CDs that pique your interest.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, October 17, 2014

Just Opened - October 17, 2014

The last weekday of our drive we present a variety of new releases, choral works based on poetry of African American writers, quirky works for winds and strings, a lyrical new group of Schubert transcriptions, and Lang Lang's new 2 CD set release of Mozart works with the Vienna Philharmonic.

Langlamet, Prohaska, Quandt, St. John
ANC 141
ISBN # 8 54853 00402 5
More about Marie-Pierre Langlemet
Official Website of Lara St. John
 My Delight of the Week!  Listeners are never surprised when I select a new harp release as my delight of the week... but this one truly is special, with something for everyone.  For whatever reason, very few harpists approach Schubert's works in transcription, and here the selections a made and played by one of the world's finest ... Marie-Pierre Langlemet.   She often works with violinist Lara St. John, and this is their new release.  It has tremendous variety, with a few solo impromptus, but mostly chamber works, including 4 songs, and - my favorite - Schubert's "Sonata Arpeggioni" played here as a harp and cello duo that is magical (Ludwig Quant joins Langlemet on that, and on a trio).

Three Choral Cycles on Poems by Langston Hughes
William Averitt
MSR 1509
ISBN # 6 81585 15092 4
Official Website of William Averitt
I suspect these choral works will have a long life due to their focus on the poetry of African American Langston Hughes. These modern compositions are rarely filled with memorable melody, but have the strong use of "choir as an orchestral sound" that is so much a part of today's choral music scene.  There are movements of each set that bring the big sound into the personal sphere.

Lang Lang, piano
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, cond.
SONY Classical 88843082532
ISBN # 8 8843 08253 2 1
Official Website of Lang Lang
The major release of the works of Mozart - one of the most popular composers of all time, performed by one of the biggest names in concert halls today, Lang Lang, conducted by a world renowned conductor, and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.   This is a combination made in advertising heaven and is bound to be on a lot of people's Christmas wish list... if they can wait that long to have it.  Also a great introduction to great works of music for those who are just building their classical library.

Beth Anderson, composer.
MSR 1434
ISBN # 6 81585 14342 1
Official Website of Beth Anderson
These new compositions are quirky and fun, and often very melodic - a great way to explore new music of a new composer.  The instrumental groupings add to the interest, with a variety of combinations of winds and strings.  New music is always for the adventuresome, and this particular CD has a lot of rewards for the listener.

Thank you to everyone who donated to support the continuing efforts of Delmarva Public Radio during our fundraising drive.   Also thanks again to our SU Practicum Stephanie Clark, for pulling together the websites and photos to help you find the CD you like.  Join us next week for more great music, Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, October 3, 2014

Just Opened - October 3, 2014 - "Brought to You by the Letter B"

It was only after I put today's selections together that I realized they all have prominent Bs.  Beethoven, Boyer, and Bientus the composers, and for our Baroque selection today, Boer and Beijer play the lead roles on these works for viol da gamba.

Jean-Paul Beintus
Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal
Diana Damrau, soprano
Kent Nagano, cond.
ISBN # 7 74204 91312 0
Official Website of Orchestre Symphonque de Montréal
My Delight of the Year!  It is pretty rare when I listen to a new CD and have to play it for almost everyone I know.  For many years at WSCL, even before I came here,  Canteloube's "Songs of the Auvergne" have been audience favorites.   For anyone who has liked that work, I can easily say you will love this.   Simple, heart-touching Japanese folks songs given lush and varied orchestral settings, sung by one of the great sopranos of our time and a marvelous children's choir in various combinations, and some solely  instrumental settings as well.  In much the same way as Canteloube used the orchestral settings to represent the landscape and aspects of nature, to create a musical picture-setting for those folk songs, Beintus has done the same things with these children's songs.  Like the music of raindrops on a window, or wind in the leaves.  Damrau sings mostly in the mezzo range on these works, giving them a rich quietness, which is only complimented by the sweet hollowness of the children's choir.  I must admit that this CD "hits me where I live" musically.  I have always liked eastern music, and as a harpist I have explored and performed asian works both in traditional forms and westernized settings.  Just as the classical music world has purists who hate to hear a tenor aria transposed and performed by a mezzo, I suppose there may be traditional eastern performers and artists who may feel that the orchestrations here are too western, the singing style too "full and supported" a singing style, and that it is not "true" to history.  That is fair criticism, but that is not the intention.  The intention here is to take these ancient tunes and give them a "new frame" and a new presentation that helps others appreciate them in new ways, and it is a complete success that I expect will have tremendous popularity once it is heard and known.

James Brawn, piano
MSR 1467
ISBN # 6 81585 14672 9
Official Website of James Brawn
James Brawn continues his offerings of the work of the incomparable Beethoven.  This CD includes an early sonata, his late "Tempest", and the charming and evokative "Les Adieux (The Goodbyes)".
't Uitnement Kabinet, original instrument group
NM Classics 92111
ISBN # 8 713309 92113
The Netherlands has a strong love of Baroque music, and for many years, has done an excellent job of researching and highlighting prominent composers of that time period whose work might be otherwise forgotten.  Early music group " 't Uitnement Kabinet" gives us glorious compositions composed to highlight the dark beauties of the viol da gamba, by Riehman (1680-1726), Hacquart (1640-1701), Schenck (1660-1720), and Snep (1656-1719).

SYMPHONY No. 1, and other works by Boyer
Peter Boyer
London Philharmonic Orchestra
NAXOS 559769
ISBN # 6 36943 97692 0
Official Website of Peter Boyer 
Contemporary composer Boyer conducts his own work on this CD. He has a particular gift for fanfares, a strength on short statements, and a way with the brass section, so his "Silver Fanfare" and "Celebration Overture" are particularly strong.  His "Three Olympians" is worth deeper listening, modern tone poems in the romantic vein, based on truly classical (greek) themes.  If you are finding many living composers have work that is difficult to like or attach to, you'll want to explore this and other works of Boyer.

Thanks again to Stephanie Clark, our S.U. practicum, for pulling together the pictures, websites, and CD info. to you help you find the music that speaks to you.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, September 26, 2014

Just Opened - September 26, 2014 - Europe and the World

France, Italy, Wales, and the Austro-German empire are the regions.  Baroque, Classical, early Romantic and Modern are the time periods.  The flavors come from the home countries and from travel, as each of the composers and performers have traveled widely, and let their music be infused with the tastes and styles of other countries near and far.

Anima Concordia
ENZO Recordings
ISBN # 4 571232 870229
Official Website of Anima Concordia
Jean-Marie Leclair's 2 sets of sonatas for 2 violins have been receiving new attention as musicians look for new ways to incorporate music in the community.  Hailed as one of the premier composers for strings of his day, these works are considered the zenith of symmetry, intimacy and solidarity.  Leclair was exceptionally well traveled for his day, having studied Italian works, and then studying in Turin, and later traveling to England and Germany.  It is thought that these works may have been initially intended for performance by Leclair himslef, joined by the great Pietro Locaterri.  This husband and wife team both graduated from the Royal Conservatory at the Hague, and have performed with several international groups including "Le Petit Bande" and Bach Collegium Japan.
Igor Kamenz, piano
Naïve 5399
ISBN # 8 22186 05399 7
Official Website of Igor Kamenz
This CD is nationally released on Sept. 30, 2014.  To give you an idea of the international stature of Igor Kamenz, this past August he played two solo concerts at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall in advance of the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and Joshua Bell.  He first conducted a major orchestra at the age of 7, followed by a series of concerts where he was piano soloist and conductor, all before the age of 10.  Recently I've been saying, "Just BUY THE CD."  Not only are the artist paybacks on downloads notoriously small, but here we have another fine example of a program that - while it can be appreciate in bits - was created to form a whole program that forms a dramatic narrative.  Out of Scarlatti's mind-boggling 555 sonatas, Kamenz has chosen these, and ordered them to form a complete program that should be listened to in full to better understand his artistic intent.

Karl Jenkins
EMI 235
ISBN # 5 099950 023523
Official Website of Karl Jenkins
My delight of the week!  Welsh composer Karl Jenkins infuses his concert works with international influences from the east, a desire to invent, with a grounding in traditional Romantic era European folk songs.  The mix created is very accessible, playful and spicey.   The wide variety of his works on this CD make for a fascinating and varied program.  It will be no surprise that I purchased this CD for the double harp concerto (both parts performed here by Catrin Finch), but each of these works presents a complete different musical "room."  A work for 2 flutes, piano and percussion, where - in the second movement - the piano strings are plucked to evoke a sitar, a traditional baroque theme and variations reimagined for marimba, and a Violin concerto that one moment evokes ancient Persia, then takes us through Russian folk song.   It will also be no surprise listening to his music that part of his musical background is jazz-rock, and all of these influences blend beautifully to create music that is surprising, fresh, and the kind of thing that makes you think, "I want to hear that again."  This is the kind of concert music that is a great introduction to symphonic music for those who think they "don't like classical music."

Three Great Sonatas
Roberto McCausland Dieppa, piano
Scruffy Records 020567658
ISBN # 8 88295 10573 6
Official Website of Roberto McCausland Dieppa
Columbia born pianist Dieppa rose to prominence as a classical pianist, winning the Merrill-Lynch prize in 2002, and in 2006 winning the Pro-Arte Hungarica prize for performances of Liszt and Bartok, leading to work with Henry Kissenger for the United Nations to celebrate the 50th anniversay of the Hungarian revolution on 1956.  His work as conductor and composer have broadened to classical fusion, as well as a focus on the music of his native country, and his own works infused with a multi-continental muse.   Here he returns to basic works of Beethoven, given his own unique style and energy.  From the structure of the CD you see his acknowledgement of current listening patterns, where each movement of complete works is listed separately.  It is an acceptance that today's listener may just listen to one particular movement, then move on.

Thanks again to Stephanie Clark, our S.U. practicum, for pulling together the CD pictures, websites, and basic information to help you find out more about the works that pique your interest.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, September 19, 2014

Just Opened - September 19, 2014

A girl choir, an under-appreciated female composer, fresh takes on early & baroque works, challenging new works for euphonium, and timeless lush film music.  It's ALL in the mix today, Just Opened.

Music from Lent to Easter
The St. Cecilia Choir of Girls
MSR 1426
ISBN # 6 81585 14262 2
Official Website of The St. Cecilia Choir of Girls
Here at S.U. we are having two performances of boy choirs this fall.  This CD (intended for spring of the religious year) shows the magnificent potential of girl choirs, an under-tapped musical resource.
Piano Music of Cecile Chaminade
Joanne Polk
ISBN # 0 34062 30037 2
Official Website of Steinway & Sons
Joanne Polk's Profile Page on Steinway & Sons
My Delight of the Week.  Chaminade's works continue to be marvelous revelations, especially in the hands of a virtuoso like Polk.  She has dedicated a significant part of her playing career to shedding performance light on the works of female musicians.  Chaminade's works, so often dimissed as merely decorative or charming, are shown here to have depth, and incredible technical demands within the beauty.  For anyone who loves great piano music.

Harmonious Blacksmith
ISBN # 8 88295 11270 3
Official Website of Harmonious Blacksmith
An "original instrument" group that goes back to original texts, compares historical texts by other performers of the original, adept at historically correct improvisation, and current compositions and improvisations.  They bring this vibrant mix into the performance of historic works and new works bringing excitement to the table.

Brian Meixner, Euphonium
Nathan Daughtry, Percussion
PM 1030
ISBN # 6 70541 35958 7
Official Website of Brian Meixner
New works, on the challenging side, for euphonium, percussion, and marimba on a few, too.  Two works we feature have the restraint and meditative quality of new age works.  Others will be for those who are really tuned into the world of new chamber works.

The Classic Film Music of Jerome Moross
The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
SILVA SCREEN 6030 - 2 CD set
ISBN # 7 38572 60302 1
The City of Prague Philharmonic Official Website
More lush, wide open orchestra scores that helped define the era of the magnificent film scores.

Thanks again to Stephanie Clark, our S.U. practicum, for pulling together visuals and details to help you find the CD information you want from today's Just Opened.
Kara Dahl Russell

Friday, September 12, 2014

Just Opened - September 12, 2014 - American Music-Makers

America is filled with, and has inspired great music-making through the centuries.   Today we have a musical cross section, from early "anti-colonial" music to jazz infused film and pop favorites in lush interpretations, to great European works interpreted by American artisits.

MM 236
ISBN # 0 95182 02362 6
Official Website of HESPERUS
This weekend there is a big celebration of the Star Spangled Banner going on at Ft. McHenry.   So on Just Opened today we continue our musical exploration of early American Music, opening a CD by Hesperus Early Music Ensemble of music of the civil war.  A mixture of the influences of European roots with parlor music and appalachian fiddle - the wide range of musical influences that existed in the colonies.

Amy Dickson, saxophone
SONY 88843040412
ISBN # 8 88430 40412 0
Official Website of Amy Dickson
Australian beauty Dickson has playing that matches her looks, crisp clean, and easy on the ear.  Like many current young artisits, she has made a mark for herself playing traditional concert works, and also popular works.  For her playing with orchestras in more traditional concert repertoire, look for her other CDs.  This CD has American pop and film music favorites in arrangements that recall their glory days, and that also give them fresh flavor, esp. the samba infused version of the jazz standard "Take Five."  Definitely not for the hard core classical purist, but a little something for your down-time, or your next casual party.

Gilbert Kalish, piano
Works by Hayden, Beethoven, & Schubert
ISBN # 0 90404 94282 2
Gilbert Kalish Profile Page, 
The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
My Delight of the Week.  A native New Yorker, and pianist with the Boston Symphony Players for 30 years, Gilbert brings solid mastery and keen musicianship to these works.  I'm particularly fond of Beethoven's Bagatelles, which can be overlooked by great artists because of their light nature - but that is exactly what makes them classical "easy listening."

The American String Project
MSR 1522
ISBN # 6 81585 15222 5
Official Website of The American String Project
 The unique "conductorless string orchestra" continues to offer great annual musical treats.  Major works by Tchaikovsky & Haydn, with encores of Grieg, Brahms and Shostakovich.

Special thanks to our SU Practicum Stephanie Clark, for her help pulling together the photos and info. on these CD to make your info. search easier.
Kara Dahl Russell 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Just Opened - September 5, 2014

Our usual mix of old & new, traditional and unusual.

Leon Fleisher, piano
ISBN # 0 90404 94292 1
Fleisher's first solo disc in nearly a decade, released in time to celebrate his 86th birthday.  Fleisher famously lost the use of two fingers on his right hand and rose to the occaission by re-defining his repertoire with works for the left hand alone.  Most of these works are for the left hand alone, spanning new works like Perle's "Musical Offering" and his own "L.H.", and arrangements of crowd pleasing favorites by Gershwin and Kern.

Concert works of Jerome Moross
TROY 1400
ISBN # 0 34061 14002 3
Official Website of Jerome Moross
We continue the celebration of the 101st anniversary of Moross's birth with more of his concert works.  The Ballet "Frankie & Johnny," based on the song ballad remains as camp today as it was upon its inception, and is probably the weakest of this collection.  His "Beguine" and "A Tall Story for Orchestra" are topped by a surprisingly infectious finale, his "Concerto for Flute and String Orchestra" which gets better and better with each listening.

Danny Helseth, euphonium
Molly D. Orlando, piano
Potenza Music 1003
ISBN # 7 57783 00702 2
Official Website of Danny Helseth
New works for Euphonium.  Mostly works for euphonium and piano, but a few include chamber ensemble as well.  Many of our listeners will find this a challenge, but there are melodic works here, and the rarity of new works that feature euphonium give this CD an innate appeal.

The Cello Sonatas
John Whitfield, violoncello
James Winn, piano
MSR 1516
ISBN # 6 81585 15162 4
My Delight of the Week!
Whitfield and Winn, both highly lauded and accomplished, are separated by generations, but play as one on these historic works.

Special thanks to our S.U. practicum Stephanie Clark for her work pulling together the photos and information on today's CD selections.  Join us next week for more new releases, Just Opened!
Kara Dahl Russell


The views expressed in the posts and comments of this blog do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Public Radio Delmarva, its staff, members, underwriters, Salisbury University, or the Salisbury University Foundation. They should be understood as the personal opinions of the author. No information on this blog will be understood as official.